A recent report by Cigna International has shown that while over two-thirds of respondents say they would like the option to work from home in the future, whether that's full time or part time, two in five employees say they are working longer hours at home than in the office.
According to the report, employees also said employers not giving them the well-being support they need. Comprehensive health insurance coverage, that supports whole health, is desired by over half of all employees but only offered by a quarter of employers.
In addition, holistic support for work-life balance, financial education and physical and mental health advice are key priorities for many people, yet fewer than half of those who expect this support are receiving it.
Cigna International president John Sadler said, “Hybrid working is here to stay, so offering flexibility to employees who value the option of working from home will help set a business apart from less flexible competitors. Alongside this, it is vital that companies support employees with their whole health, offering clear guidelines and setting work-life boundaries to strike the right balance for both the business and employees.”
Hybrid working is here to stay, but presents challenges
The lack of boundaries between work and home can also make it difficult to disconnect, resulting in an “always on” mindset. Also, while digital tools have made communication possible, 35% of people said they thought online communication was less effective than face-to-face, and 18% reported virtual meeting fatigue.
The report said that despite this, there is a strong preference from certain groups to continue hybrid working. For example, 43% of expat workers prefer to work remotely, compared to 32% of local employees.
It also revealed a connection between employees’ seniority and their desire to work from home – the more senior the employee, the stronger the preference. Saving time on daily commute is top of mind for 45% of workers with WFH option, followed by better work/life balance (31%) and more time with family (26%).
Additionally, with health and well-being thrust into the limelight people have been reassessing their priorities and what they expect from their employer’s. 57% of women preferred some form of home working, compared to 54% of men, and 65% of women said work-life balance was vital, compared to 61% of men. Women are also more likely to see enhanced health coverage and mental health support more highly than their male counterparts.
“Maintaining the pre-pandemic status quo is not enough. Employees have formed new attitudes about work-life balance as well as their employers’ role in it. Those companies that address the well-being concerns of their workforce will benefit through more loyal and committed employees. Updating benefits policies to reflect changing needs, will increase productivity and help companies stay market-competitive, attracting and retaining the best talent,” said Cigna International human resources officer Michelle Leung.
Cigna partnered with Kantar, a data, insights and consulting company, to survey 18,043 people, aged 18 and above, in 21 markets in April 2021, prior to the surges in COVID-19 cases in India and Taiwan.